Gideon had to remember what happened that day. He had to know if what he dreamt had truly happened twelve years ago. It seemed returning home had made him see all of the selfish errors he made in the past that he had either forgotten or never realized. Actions that hurt his family and Phoebe. He was determined to make amends for all of his mistakes. Every last one of them.
Deep in thought, he strolled along the footpath beside the river Trevillet that lead through the ancient forest of the Glen. He didn’t realize he was close until he heard the roar of the falls just ahead. He was anxious to see the Kieve. He and Phoebe spent much time there together during their childhood. Some of his fondest memories had been at the waterfall with her. He could not remember coming to the place since that day in question long ago. He had come to the waterfall today in hopes it would help him remember the details of the incident that tormented him. The occurrence that last night’s disturbing dream had brought to the forefront.
In his younger years, he always thought of the Kieve as their special place. He walked toward the spot he knew would afford him a view of the waterfall as it plunged way down to the deep rock basin below. After the water swirled within the confines of the stone basin, it rushed through a large hole, shaped like a perfect circle, forming a wide, shallow pool below. Surrounded by walls of slate on three sides, the water moved through the pool and swirled around a bend. It spilled over rocks then ran swiftly along out of sight, where it continued through the wood and past an old mill toward Rocky Valley where it rushed and cascaded through the slippery, slate canyon and emptied into the sea.
When he reached the vantage point where fern and ivy tangled and hung down the rock walls alongside the falls, he heard the tinkling of laughter.
His gaze moved immediately to the pool beyond. There he saw her. Phoebe laughed as her dog splashed about her, a large stick in his mouth. She tugged on it and eventually the canine let go. She threw the stick to the other side of the pool. The dog bounded through the water after it. Again she laughed.
“Good boy,” she rewarded the returning chestnut colored dog with a pat on the head.
The edges of her cream-colored skirts were pulled up and tied loosely about her waist. She had tried to hike up her petticoats also, but without as much success. A pair of quite gorgeous calves, slender and shapely, peeked from beneath her dampened petticoats. When she squatted down and began examining rocks she pulled from the bottom of the shallow pool, he realized just how her calves had come to be so well formed. She seemed perfectly at ease in that position. He guessed she spent a great deal of time squatting exactly like that while working with her father and brother in their archaeological pursuits.
As was quite a common occurrence with Phoebe, her unruly, dark reddish-brown curls had fallen from her hairpins and cascaded down her back. Visions from his dream and snatches of his memory assaulted him. There would be tiny droplets from the fall’s mist clinging to her wild curls as well as her eyelashes.
Memories of sweet, tender kisses from that day long ago, when their young love blossomed at this very spot, flooded into his mind. He pushed them away. As was also a common occurrence when he was near Phoebe, his senses were alive. He teetered in a near state of arousal.
He decided not to spoil such a beautiful moment. God knew he had made a mess of things already. He felt like an intruder. He would leave her to her privacy and go back the way he had come. He was about to turn away and walk back through the ancient wood alone when the exquisite canine noticed his presence. His barks echoed in the magical space enclosed by slate walls.
Phoebe looked up, alarm marring her features at first. Her frown disappeared when she recognized him. She smiled, waving up at him.
“Gideon! You’ve come to the Kieve, I see.” Phoebe had to search for words. She was surprised to see him here. She hadn’t slept well. She was plagued by dreams and memories after seeing him yesterday. She left her bed at daybreak and came to the falls. It was still her special place, even long after Gideon left St. Gerwyn’s Manor.
She rose from her squatting position. Remembering her skirts and petticoats were hiked up, she started to fuss with them and pulled the corners of fabric down so Gideon would not see her bare calves. He would no doubt disapprove of her appearance. Since Gideon left twelve years ago, she had often seen the disapproval in his eyes when he looked her way during one of his brief visits to Cornwall. Her foot slipped on a slick stone, and she fell backwards, landing in the pool on her backside with her knees bent in front of her.
“Oh, heavens,” she grumbled. Of all the times to take a tumble.
Anubis splashed around her, sniffing and kissing her.
“I’m fine, boy. I’m fine.” Embarrassment flamed upon her cheeks. Mr. Proper London Gentleman would not be impressed. She sighed heavily. It did not matter.
Anubis dropped his stick in her lap and smiled at her, his tongue lolling before he let go a high-pitched bark. She laughed and threw the stick as far as she could so that she might try to get up without the hound hovering over her.
With Anubis out of the way, she saw Gideon, dressed in his dashing London finery, coming down the steep slate-stepped path to get to her.
“Oh, Gideon, please, I am fine. If you come down here, you will surely ruin your boots and fine clothes. I can get up on my own, I assure you.”
He did look fine. His dark brown hair was neatly combed and his brown coat, probably the closest he had to country wear, fit him perfectly. His waistcoat was green and gold silk. His intricately knotted cravat was quite out of place in such a tiny hamlet in North Cornwall. She didn’t miss how well his buff trousers fit his long, powerful legs or the high shine of his black boots. Gideon had always been handsome, he was more so now if that were possible. Even with the stubble of whiskers along his jaw and chin.
“Stay where you are Phoebe. I’ll not leave a lady on her arse in a pool. I shall help you.”
Phoebe sighed heavily. She remained where she was. She assumed Gideon was as stubborn as he used to be, and there was no ladylike way to get up on her own.
“Gideon, take care. It is very slippery if you will remember,” she said as she saw him slip slightly as he stepped into the pool.
“I remember, Phoebe.” He waded toward her, the water swirling about his shiny boots. He stepped upon an unstable rock. It was mossy and proved to be as slippery as glass. His leg slid out from under him. He tried to right himself. That action resulted in him falling forward, arms flailing. He fell into the pool.
He landed with his face partly in the water, between Phoebe’s bent legs. He realized he was looking at the part of her anatomy that had kept him awake all night. It was there just inches from his face, covered by her sodden skirts, but there. Nothing like getting to the root of the problem.